New parking lot highlights summer season of improvements on Fred Meijer Heartland Trail


By Curtis Wildfong • Last Updated 9:27 pm on Friday, November 15, 2013

Friends of the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail underwent several projects on the trail this summer, highlighted by a new parking lot in Greenville. Pictured are Greenville resident Bev Simmons, right, and Lowell resident Michael Lecoures walking along the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail where it meets the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail along the Flat River. The Heartland Trail continues along the bridge shown in background.

 

GREENVILLE — It was a busy summer of work on the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail, highlighted by a new parking lot on the north side of Greenville that will provide a safe access point to the trail.

The parking lot is actually the first public lot in Greenville designated specifically to Heartland Trail users and will be open to the public in the spring, thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Greenville Area Community Foundation, which covered more than half the total cost.

“We would not be able to have done it without the Foundation,” said Friends of the Heartland Trail Treasurer Karen Stearns. “This isn’t the first time the foundation has helped us. We’ve been very luck to have a local foundation that supports us.”

The Foundation has shown support for both the Heartland Trail and the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail, both of which Foundation officials said help bring about a new form of connectivity between communities.

A sign marking the new parking lot for the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail in Greenville. A $5,000 grant from the Greenville Area Community Foundation paid for more than half the cost of the project, which is the only parking lot in the city designated for Heartland Trail users.

“The Community Foundation is pleased to support improvements to the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail that benefits the entire county and all trail users. And it’s good that there are people in our county who volunteer their time to advocate for the trails and keep them maintained,” said Amy O’Brien of the Greenville Area Community Foundation, which also provides grant funding for the Flat River Trail. “These trail systems encourage recreation and connect our communities in ways not even imagined just a few years ago. We look forward to this partnership benefiting the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail for years to come.”

Located just off M-91 near West Congress Street, the parking lot has nine spaces, including two handicapped spaces, for those wishing to hop on the trail in Greenville. Prior to the opening of the new lot, there was no parking designated to the Heartland Trail.

“We figured we needed a parking lot somewhere near Lafayette (Street),” said Stearns, adding the Flat River Trail intersects with the Heartland Trail nearby at the bridge just east of Charles Street. “This can also serve as an entrance point to the Flat River Trail too.”

The parking lot is complete, but does not have a vehicle entrance because it is not yet open to the public. Stearns said a gravel entrance will be completed in the spring.

The lot was just one of many projects conducted on the trail this summer, and still continue to be done. (See accompanying box of projects)
All of the work on the trail, outside of the parking lot and surface resealing, was done by volunteers, Stearns said. There is still plenty on the agenda this year before snowfall.

Stearns, along with her husband Don, will be fighting back against the always creeping grass line along the side of the trail.

“This fall we are pushing back really hard,” she joked.

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